Two Important Studies on Marijuana’s Benefits on PTSD, Autism, to be Conducted

A US Navy hospital corpsman and US Marines walk inside a base in southern Afghanistan. (File image via Reuters)
A US Navy hospital corpsman and US Marines walk inside a base in southern Afghanistan. (File image via Reuters)

As the trend to legalize marijuana spreads like blazing wildfire, two separate studies will be conducted to see the herb’s possible benefits in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and autism.

Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, has its research team studying the risks and benefits of marijuana for people with PTSD, The Chronicle Herald reported.

Initially, the team, led by Dr. Sherry Stewart, wants to talk to veterans, who either self-administer marijuana or get the drug through medicinal prescriptions.

“They all tell us their own stories and we design their own little scripts and pictures that go along with it,” said Stewart, who runs the Mood, Anxiety, and Addiction Co-morbidity (MAAC) lab at Dal’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.

The crux of the research, which will be funded by the Nova Scotia Health Authority, is to find out the specifics behind an “individual’s craving for a substance, a learned response called cue reactivity,” The Chronicle Herald reported.

Stewart said this process has been studied in alcohol addiction research but not marijuana.

So far, studies showed marijuana as a double-edged sword for people suffering PTSD.

While some studies revealed high rates of stress linked with marijuana dependence, medicinally prescribed marijuana is used to treat PTSD.

Stewart said:

“This study is trying to determine, are there particular ways of using marijuana that are more risky or less risky or more helpful.”

He added: “So that might be part of the answer as to why these questions seem to be two polar opposites: One suggesting that people with PTSD shouldn’t use marijuana because it could be very addictive and others saying that it can be helpful.”

Unlike the civilian population, which has an estimate of six to eight percent rate of PTSD sufferers, the percentage for veterans is about 15 to 17 percent.

The severity of PTSD could push veterans to commit suicide or act violently.

Stewart’s team hopes to get 30 people in each of the four categories. Participants do not have to be in Halifax, Canada.  Those interested in participating can call the MAAC lab at 902-494-3793 or they can email [email protected].

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Marijuana helps reduce symptoms of autistic kids. (File photo)

First Research on Autism in the U.S. 

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will conduct a pioneering study, considered to be the first in the United States to examine the benefits of medical marijuana in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Autism Parenting Magazine reported.

The study will be funded privately by the Australian biopharmaceutical company called Zelda Therapeutics.  

Athena Zupp, the director of Children’s Hospital’s Center for Clinical Pharmacology, told philly.com that children will not be receiving any cannabis.

He said:

“The hospital will not provide any cannabis products to children. This is truly an observational study. We’re not giving them anything. We’re just gathering data to educate ourselves.”

Expected to start this year, the researchers will be working with children who are already covered under Pennsylvania’s Safe Harbor Provision.

The study comes on the heels of many parents advocating for the legalization of marijuana to help autism-related symptoms.  The symptoms include anxiety, which marijuana helps to reduce, self-injurious behaviors, sleep dysregulation, and trouble with social interactions.

Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA), a parent advocacy group with chapters in seven U.S. states, provides on its website provides testimonials from 10 families who claim marijuana has greatly helped their child’s symptoms.

Some of the families describe themselves “medical refugees” moving across state lines so their children will be eligible for the use of medical marijuana for seizures and other qualifying conditions.

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